The electro-establishment's gentrified the neighborhood but the locals clutch guitars and show no sign of giving in completely to the cute boutiques gentrifying our genres with flowery synth arpeggios and whole blocks devoted to designer drug-fueled raves. Beat music is a nice place to visit, but sometimes its important to remember that Minor Threat is where many of us came from.
Best album of July 2011
Cerebral Ballzy, Cerebral Ballzy (Williams Street)
Ripped straight from the Black Flag/punk-hardcore playbook and occasionally slipping into a snotty British accent, this shit is pretty fresh in the world of bands that places like Fader or Adult Swim (who have a hand in releasing the band's new album) have dwelled for the past few years, though maybe nothing new to some hardcore brats (or aging bros) frequenting Expo or the like-minded crowd hanging out in your local parking lot who keep it straight edge 4 life.
The best releases of July 2011
Serengeti, Friends & Family (Anticon)
Serengeti's latest solo record is produced by the cheekily-arty Yoni Wolf of Why and Adance Base (Owen Ashworth of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone). It is dropping on the Oakland-based avant-garde rap turned weirdo-electronica label Anticon. But, Serengti is a Midwest boy at heart and few things convey that better than cupcaking on the paint mixing bitty at Menard's hardware store.
Eric Copeland, Whorehouse Blues 7-inch (PPM)
We've had a special fondness for 50s nostalgia fed through lo-fi aesthetics this year, so naturally we're stoked on Eric Copeland of Black Dice trying out his best Eric Burdon impersonating Howlin' Wolf impression.
Cities Aviv, Coastin 7-inch (Fat Sandwich)
The persona requires a competitive gnarl, but Cities Aviv is not about to let that get the best of him on “Coastin” as he raps “I'm not the best but I'm comin' for the next spot.” Vocally, Cities Aviv bares a striking resemblance to J-Live, which makes Digital Lows and Aviv's “Coastin' 7” sound like the wedge between the true schoolers and this generation's preferred sound.
Flying Lotus, Lovers Melt 2 (Stones Throw)
FlyLo took to his Lovers Melt concept with a renewed fervor on the second installment, selecting 2.5 hours of summer heat from his crates. Twitter responses are already [reported] positive results that Lovers Melt 2 will get you laid, even if you can't accurately spell “laid”.
Kendrick Lamar, #Section80 (TDE)
On “HiiiPower” Kanye's lyrics from “So Appalled” are lifted to channel a Black Panther-informed perspective for the betterment of one's life, while serving food for thought on what we should truly be appalled by, instead of quietly accepting Kanye's inability to enjoy a good meal and white women as indicative of the common experience. By aligning oneself with the teachings of Marcus Garvey, the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Lamar is painfully aware of the target placed upon his back as the third verse speaks on the inevitability of being silenced. Indeed, Lamar's Compton-raised perspective is reactionary to the death of Tupac Shakur and all of the strong black minds before him that were either assassinated or slain in the struggle.
Big Spider's Back, Memory Man (Circle Into Square)
Operating under the moniker Big Spider's Back, Yair Rubinstein began recording his full length debut Memory Man last year in his garage studio in Seattle before moving to Brooklyn. Acting as the elbow of Memory Man, “Brigitte Bombay” is a cleansing experience from the drum-centric rhythm monster that is the duration of the record. A chance to breathe and escape, but by the time USF seep into a distant refrain you've already drifted far out to sea.
Pure X, Pleasure (Acéphale)
Pure Ecstasy have made themselves about 80% cooler (Ecstasy into X was a very smooth move). The guitar sound is pretty much identical (no wah on this track), the tempo is still locked in at a lazy meander, and Nate Grace's syrupy vocal chords still coat his compositions with a gooey layer of what's no longer Ecstasy, just X.
Clams Casino, Rainforest EP (TriAngle)
Stop thinking about bacon and shellfish and start enjoying trippy beats. Clams Casino rips through dizzying samples that might someday land him a spot on tour with CFCF or Frank Ocean, as the breakanomics of his beat sonics inch towards the anomie infecting our pre-concieved notions of R&B.
Brian Eno, Drums Between the Bells
Brian Eno could hit poo with a stick and we'd be tempted to throw a 10.0 its way. On his latest outing, (a million miles better than his recent collaborations with David Byrne), the perennial mad scientist who launched a couple genres stylizes a crossroads between glitch (as per the first leaked single), lounge, and dustup, with tasteful guest vocals and surprising verse conjured by Rick Holland.
Future Islands, “Before the Bridge/Find Love” 7″ (Thrill Jockey)
This new single proves further maturation of the Baltimore by way of North Carolina trio. Building off the emotive and dark undertones of In Evening Air, “Before The Bridge” matches a big beat with dark cries, impossibly beautiful synths, and a bass line to boot. In this case, the big beat is beefed up a bit, courtesy of live drumming by Denny Bowen of Double Dagger.
Bordan, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin, FRKWYS Vol. 7 (RVNG)
The seventh installment in RVNG's ongoing series finds us with a “synth ensemble,” a rag-tag band of synthesizer champions including minimalist composer David Borden, Daniel Lopatin, Laurel Halo, Samuel Godin, and James Ferraro. Easily a notable footnote (rather than a discarded fragment) in the sinewy line of kosmiche collaborations that stretch back to David Borden's Mother Mallard's Portable Masterpiece Company.
Spoek Mathambo, Put Some Red on It EP (Sub Pop)
Spoek is treating the dance floor like a medium for recruiting terrorist cells, as the danger levels have been on red alert since his EP with Wool. “Put Some Red On It” explores the issue of conflict/blood diamonds, while Spoek adds nine tons of sleaze and bare bone percussion to his afro-futurism sound.
Prurient, Bermuda Drain (Hydra Head)
Prurient gets brutal on the dance floor for much of Bermuda Drain, a metamorphosis of sorts out of his primeval brew: rather than emerging from the muck of blown out distortion and destruction that characterizes what one may think of Prurient, tracks like “A Meal Can Be Made” heave black metal agitas at a strobe-lit industrial pulse, like throwing meat at a whirring blade and watching an ordered matrix form on the wall out of the resulting carnage.
Night Manager, “Pizza Pasta” 7-inch ()
Brooklyn garage freshmen Night Manager try out a new chorus sound on their guitar for this jazzy tune “Pizza Pasta”, which shimmers with mid-tempo melancholy and walls of reverb, with Caitlin Seager's characteristic oohs and ahs warming the distant, chilly beats. The track is off their first 7-inch, coming out July 5 on Fire Talk.
Ex Cops, White Women EP (self-released)
On their debut EP, Ex Cops divulge a very wide stylistic berth. Some tracks (“Spring Break (Birthday Song)”) are there for Underwater Peoples and other aquatic tribes of all that's guitar lickin' smooth, while we're sharing “S&HSXX” and “The Millionaire”, which open up a dark, wordless wave tunnel and a breezy summer escape hatch, respectively.
Theophilus London, “Last Name London” (Reprise)
Theophilus London is not backed into a corner, fighting for his life, which makes “Last Name London” all the more of a sucker punch. The jetsetting lover is done with the exotic vacations and back to put in work with raps like “I-I don't battle / I pro-rhyme / get-get-get with the program.” I cannot recall reading a Theophilus article that questioned TH's credentials, nor does TH sound bitter we never asked if he had some raw shit in him, but “Last Name London” answers such quandaries in case you were silently wondering. So stay off his Herbie Hancock, alright?
Sole and the Skyrider Band, Hello Cruel World Remixes (Fake Four)
Sole and the Skyrider Band leaked a couple of powerhouse remixes in anticipation of their Hello Cruel World EP, including the mega-collaboration between Sole, Kool A.D. of Das Racist, Pictureplane, and Ceschi for the track “Coke Rap“, and Lil B and Pictureplane on “Captain Bad Swag“. Whoa!
Eternal Tapestry + Sun Araw, Night Gallery (Thrill Jockey)
Night Gallery was recorded during SXSW 2010 at a live broadcast in-studio session on KVRX student radio. It was improvised in its entirety “after a brief discussion of mood” and will be released as it was played, with no overdubs. The title of the release is an homage to a surrealistic early 70's TV show produced by Rod Serling that the musicians listened to as they fell asleep in Texas, and as we hoped, the release is darkly oneiric and otherworldly.
Chllngr, Haven (Green Owl)
Steve Borth has some fun thing minor key synths and pensive drum sequencing happenings on Haven. Sometimes it sounds like Dark Rift slowed down or a less funereal rendition of HTRK's Work, Work, Work, but still has plenty of that spooky electric buzz. A stand-out outing, despite the vocal spots from Jessica Brown on “Dusty” and Coco O on “Sundown.”